Making Compost (cont)
By: National Gardening Association Editors
Compost Pile Maintenance
In about two weeks, bacteria in the pile will have reduced much of the material in the center of the pile to compost and caused it to heat up. The pile now needs to be turned to be aerated and complete the process for materials on the outside of the pile. Depending on your setup, you can turn the material into an adjacent bin or turn it within the bin itself. Commercial tumbling composters available through garden centers or catalogs, make this process easier by putting a drum or container on some kind of turning device.
The turned pile should be watered so it's moist, but not soggy. Ideally it will heat up again finishing the composting process in another week or two. Any remaining large stalks, branches, or vegetables can be recomposted.
When the compost is done, it can be turned into garden or sifted through a screen of hardware cloth and used in containers. Your finished compost also makes a great tea. Making compost tea is an easy way to receive many of the benefits of compost without having to haul the heavy materials to the garden. You can make the tea by soaking a sack of finished compost in a barrel of water for 2 to 3 hours. To really juice up the tea, consider aerating the compost. By adding oxygen more microbes will be produced that will make for better quality tea and better plant growth. Dilute the tea with water and apply as needed.